The bookstore chain Borders filed for bankruptcy protection this morning.

The Evanston Borders store. (Mike Perlman photo)

A list published by the New York Times showed the Borders Evanston store, a major anchor of the Church Street Plaza development downtown, as one of about 200 stores the chain plans to close as it seeks to reorganize under bankruptcy court protection.

Update 11:25 a.m.: Bruce Reid, executive vice president of Arthur Hill & Company, which operates the plaza, said he was aware of the bankruptcy filing, but had not received word from Borders about the possible closure of the Evanston store.

“Borders has always been an exemplary tenant in terms of communication,” Reid said, “so I’m sure if it is closing, we’ll be hearing from them quite soon.”

He declined comment on possible future plans for the 22,000 square foot space.

In the Chicago metro area as a whole, Borders is planning to close 15 of its 31 stores.

Related link

Borders store closing list from Wall Street Journal.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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29 Comments

    1. Too Late!

      How about recruiting a McDonald's (long gone from downtown Evanston) for the soon to be vacant store?

      1. No McDonald’s

        McDonalds is a corporate greed machine that makes billions of dollars by selling unhealthy food-like products. There are two businesses that should NEVER, under any circumstances be in Evanston, fast food chains like McDonalds and big box retailers like Wal-Mart. Those places all also have giant carbon footprints.

      2. Chase plaza was once rumored to become a food court

        I certainly would like to see McDonalds back and would love to have IHOP but the latter would need parking.

    1. Borders

      Yes, this is all Obama's fault….it was he who invented itunes, making CDs obsolete…and he created amazon.com and kindle, cutting into Borders sales…he is trying to destroy the private book industry and force us all to us public (socialist) libraries, where we will have to wait for months to get a copy of 'The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo' and Donald Rumsfeld's memoirs won't be available at all!

      1. Oh, it’s much worse than that

        Don't forget! Obama accepted a FREE pre-release copy of Jonathan Franzen's Freedom on Martha's Vineyard last summer. THAT is the real cause of Borders' demise.

      2. Sorry pal, I support Obama

        I usually hate what you neocons call "creative destruction" because it puts people out of work, but I am hopeful that this will be a situation where maybe we can get a Trader Joe's in downtown so I am not forced to shop at the neocon/anti-Obama corporate sellout Whole Foods and I am hopeful that Obama can get involved to help make it happen. Obama worked miracles with GM and I hope he can work one here that will create a lot of value for the people of Evanston.

        1. GM

          Obama worked a miracle with GM? What are you talking about? The company still sells inferior products and the Volt is surely to disappoint (it's really a hybrid but we'll call it electric because anything else would make GM look stupid). It's funny to me how the banks got so much grief for the bailout money (even though they paid it back) but GM could never pay it back and that's okay because they aren't evil. GM will go bankrupt sooner or later when people realize that the Nissan Leaf is so much superior and the labor unions are no longer willing to pay any portion or their outrageous benefits. Reminds of the situation in WI. Except GM cannot force people to buy their cars whereas a state can just raise taxes (hello IL).

           

          Note – Yes, i've owned and driven many GM cars. This is why is only buy products from Honda or Toyota.

  1. Sad, indeed

    I can't believe that the Wilmette store is staying open. Every time I've been in there, you could roll a bowling ball through the store and not hit anyone.

  2. Maybe a real store, hmm?

    How about a Dominick's? Nordstrom? J.Crew … Williams-Sonoma … Talbots? Something useful whose purpose isn't already fulfilled elsewhere in Evanston. Oh oops, those are all national chains – have we learned our lesson yet, are we ready to let national chains give our city some commercial depth?

    1. Borders

      I've been in the Borders a few times…but I can't remember the last time I purchased anything in there.

      I think that the best use would be an IHOP  or Target.

  3. Borders Evanston

    With a B&N so close, it was clear Borders would not pick Evanston to stay in given it would have better prospects in locations where it was the sole dealer.

  4. Empty Space

    I hate to see Border's go but with a Barnes & Noble right down the street, two of them is redundant. I think a Trader Joe's is badly needed in Evanston and that would be an almost-perfect spot for one. The "almost" is because of the crazy one-way streets all around that are frustrating to get tangled up in and, of course, the parking.

  5. We have a long history of it

    Until 7(?) years ago we had Great Expectations which was a world class [not an exageration] bookstore that carried some of the best from almost every field.   People came from miles for it and one German newspaper started an article on bookstores "If you get to the U.S. you have to go to Great Expectations."

    We had K&B once that was only a shadow of the one in the Loop that [I'll only use mathematics as an example] had the best of academic books—but even they did not seem to recognize it since they did not re-order when a book sold.

    Twenty-five NU had an excellent science section in the basement.  Later some of it moved up stairs [they like Great Expectations had a Springer Yellow Book sale] but all that has been gone for five+ years [probably longer than that].

    When B&N opened in Evanston they had a decent math selection but slowly moved to popular math and Dover [which has excellent books]. When Borders opened they had a VERY good math selection [Springer and others] but I think before they moved had gone to the same level as B&N.  At present neither is great but Borders is probably a bit better.

    I don't know if still true [probably not] the Univ. Chicago and DePaul B&N was very good but I'd not be surprised if they also have or will 'revert to the mean.'  Evanston is lucky in that in many fields they can still go to NU to look at new arts/sciences/engineering books but these days even private universities are having to make hard decisions.

    EPL once was able to buy a good selection of college level books for the general public, but they are now constrained [thanks EPLF].

    True for a long time, but more and more people will have to rely on recommendations [Amazon, groups they belong to, or catelogs] to determine what to buy.   I doubt after all this time B&N will fill the gap..

     

  6. Borders, Trader Joe’s and the branches

    Where are the "Friends of Borders" to demand the store stay open?

    Nobody would even think of starting such a group because nobody knows better than a business owner whether or not an operation is profitable and it is private investment at stake.

    But you CAN keep something going or at least drag out its demise over years when the funding is public! You can even go out and take more money out of the public pocket if you can make a loud enough noise in meetings, though maybe these hard times will prove that old reliable method has its limits. Amazingly, the south branch is history – but has a stake truly been driven through its heart? Every publicly funded agency is a werewolf/zombie, never really dead.

    The Reps and the Dems are talking about cutting the federal budget, biting into "the necessities" but both parties are eager to send even MORE than the current $3 billion/year to Israel, a wealthy country with fewer people than Chicagoland. Go figure (hint: it has to do with lobbying)

    People have rightly said that we still have Barnes and Noble. Well, up until recently we had THREE libraries and there's no danger of the mother library going down. We all have shoes to walk and most have 2 ton metal living rooms to drive. So use them.

    I'm grateful that at least we've been spared anyone saying  "Border's is a vital part of what we want Evanston to be"

    TRADER JOES – YES!  I was out at the Waukegan Road store last weekend, produce is 50% the price of what it goes for at Dominick's and Jewel on Green Bay Road. Apples, for example, are 59 or 69 cents a pound and at Doms/Jewel you can't get apples for less than $1.99/lb and usually they are $2.49.

    With prices like that, it's worth going all the way out to Glenview to buy food. I do it on my bicycle, it's a wonderful ride. BUT I SHOULDN'T, because why open a store in Evanston when Evanstonians will come to you in Glenview? Those TJ's folks are not only a happy bunch that likes Hawaiian shirts, they are good business people too.

  7. TJ’s, Bowling, sure!

    I hope and pray Evanston will get a Trader Joe's but I keep hearing that the taxes are too high and another food chain doesn't want them there and somehow has influence on that. (Who knows what's really going on?)

    Love the idea of having a bowling alley. It's a year-round activity that's great for small and large groups, it's social, and it supports concessions and even live music if it's set up correctly. I'm sure NU students would utilize it, and so would folks who want another option for kids' birthday parties. And with a movie theater across the street, several restaurants within a block, and a parking garage just down the street, it seems like a great location.

    It's not like the noise would be an issue — it would be overshadowed by the trains anyway.

    I never like to see bookstores go away but that Border's had a strange layout and lousy pricing. I wish the economy supported more independent businesses but it's just so hard to compete. Of course, I do most of my book shopping at the Market Fresh Books (by the pound) now, so I guess I didn't help Borders any.

  8. Borders has the nicest new architecture in Evanston

    The Border's building is the nicest design of all of the "new" architecture in downtown Evanston.  What a shame.  Hopefully, the good design (not to mention close public transit and parking) will allow the store to find a new tenant quickly. 

    1. People inquring about possible use of the space

      I remember when I first saw a Borders store, back in 1991.  It was the most amazing bookstore ever..with fancy leather chairs and escalators and more books than any 'independent' store could afford to stock.   So much has changed…now it serves mainly as a stationery store with a cafe and large magazine rack , and the book selection is nothing special.   So who needs it?  Barnes & Noble is much nicer in Evanston, and other books can be purchased online. ( Of course, there is the issue of whether it is fair for online companies  to pay no sales tax, giving them an unfair advantage over stores…but I guess tax avoidance is the American way.  )  It is always unfortunate that people are losing jobs, but let's get something else in there to create new jobs.

      The Evanston Review quotes a representative from Arthur Hill, the landlord, as being optimistic about being able to fill the space:

      Reid doesn't expect any shortage of customers for the 22,000-square-foot space, which he calls “obviously the best space in Evanston . 

      He is already receiving calls at the Arthur Hill number, (847) 570-4800, from people inquiring  about possible use of the space. He said interest spans “a very wide array – electronic retailers, fashion retailers, more restaurant type uses.”

      These options sound more interesting than Borders.  Especially if it is a restaurant that is open 24 hours and serves popular items like pancakes.

      I expect American Apparel's corner to be available soon, too.  I hope that they are recruiting good new tenants to move in there.

      1. Great logic on tax avoidance

        Neocons will say that since the online vendor isn't using things like police, fire, snow removal and other resources it isn't "fair" to tax them on their sales. However, note that the online vendors are destroying local merchants in the same way Wal-Mart has done – I think all sales at Wal-Mart should be subjected to a 10% surtax and all sales by online vendors should be subject to a 25% tax to level the playing field for the local merchants.

        1. Online sales tax

          "since the online vendor isn't using things like police, fire, snow removal and other resources it isn't "fair" to tax them on their sales"

          but the taxes are paid by the consumer…so if I, an Evanston resident, purchase something from amazon.com, then I should have to pay taxes on it since I use police, fire, snow removal, etc.

      2. Online vrs. brick and mortar benefits from governments

        It was written: " ( Of course, there is the issue of whether it is fair for online companies  to pay no sales tax, giving them an unfair advantage over stores…but I guess tax avoidance is the American way.  )"

        ============================

        Remember all the tax support, eminent domain, 'gifts' [the Council seems to love this one] and other benefits cities/states give to 'brick and mortar stores.  Recall the $10,000 to Borders the city gave when they moved—that they did not even ask for or the fence grill work for the restaurant across the street.

      3. Uses for Border or someone’s space

        I'd love to see an IHOP and a KFC in downtown Evanston.  They would be great for Evanston.  For some reason Wilmette had both [Greenbay at Central and Lake respectively] but for some reason I never could understand both were closed.   We had a KFC on Chicago Ave. until Jewel moved there and a Browns on Central—but no more.

        Regarding parking that some brought up and others mentioned the city garage. 

        For dining I suspect parking would not be a strain on the number of spaces but the cost of parking might.  As far as I know this has not been an issue for the restaurants there yet.

        For a grocery the number of spaces could be a problem and people would not want to pay the full-rate.  Would the city work something out ?

      4. A Dominicks in Borders space ?

        By DePaul [Fullerton and Halsted] there is a two story Dominicks that is about the same size as Borders.  Walmart just announced they will put a grocery in the Presidential Tower building {Madison and west of the river in Chicago].  The current grocery there is not even a quarter the size of Borders.

        A Dominicks or other reasonable priced grocery would be a big plus for downtown Evanston.

        =======================

        I found some of the comments about how many businesses would salivate over the Borders space, puzzling.  Why have they not moved on the old Borders building [maybe bring Walgreens back with a liquor department ?] or any of the many other spaces downtown.   As I recall Chase wanted to sell/lease the south part of the bank space;  as I seem to remember the store SE corner of Chicago and Davis is still empty; is the old Chandlers and Rotary full; aren't there several empty stores on Orrington ?   Seems we have more than enough space if businesses really want to move into or within Evanston—-maybe all the stories about the interest are just the city creating good publicity.

         

  9. Parking Fees = Borders Closing

    Hey Evanston, parking in Edens Plaza is free, and my bicycle doesn't get ripped off in Wilmette. 

    When Evanston's city council (caps omitted on purpose)  quits taxing anyone who wants to invest in the city,  taxes might be lowered and that would encourage shoppers and investors to return.  The final straw for me was when I discovered Evanston charges 16% for a drink with a meal.  Fooled once, not twice.  I've taken my daily restaurant habit elsewhere.

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